DEAD GIRL (2008)

Director: Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel
Writer: Trent Haaga
Cast: Shiloh Fernandez, Noah Segan, Michael Bowen and Candice Accola
Release Date: 07/24/09


Rickie and JT are high school outsiders, bullied by jocks and despised by the in-crowd. Though both would rather drop out than bear this never-ending misery, Rickie chooses to stay, if only to catch fleeting glimpses of JoAnn, his childhood crush and the current girlfriend to the captain of the football team. Then one afternoon, while cutting class, the pair makes a bizarre discovery in the darkest depths of an abandoned hospital—a beautiful young woman, neither living nor dead, strapped to an operating table. Horrified by their find, Rickie flees, while JT stays behind to satiate his darker appetites.

Dead Girl has an obvious strategy and a campaign to reach it staffed with admirable performances, great makeup and a measured hand to pull the wool over the audience’s eyes, but it doesn’t have a point.  It’s a well crafted but hollow repulsion, the film equivalent of chugging ipecac on an empty stomach.

The obvious obstacle is how divisive the premise is.  If you’re going to push as far into the dark as raping, and eventually pimping out, a dead girl, you damn well better have a reason outside of exhibition.  There must be a moral compass to push back towards the light, to give the sick imagery some perspective.  But there’s no perspective to Dead Girl.  All of the men are scumbags, all of the women are victims.  Victimizing women may be misogynistic on its own, but making matters even worse is the fact that Trent Haaga’s script stages all of its feminine characters as victims due to their own weaknesses.  Even the deadgirl, whose only instinct is to eat flesh, ends up being subservient to her master JT at one point in the movie, as if to suggest even when they are literally brain dead, women will still make an effort to serve men.

This movie is not for the faint of heart and I strongly suggest if you do not have a strong stomach when it comes to sexual perversions you will want to avoid this movie. I am not myself a sexual deviant don’t get me wrong but I can set myself back from the film and appreciate the art of the movie without being overwhelmed by the gruesome and sadistic content.

In the end, Dead Girl is a stronger film than I expected. Coming across as a slightly sensual Barker style tale, we find something interesting in this new realm of body horror. Taking a different stand that borders on misogyny, this won’t be any easy film for everyone. But, I recommend it to anyone that wants to expand the horror sensibilities. 


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